by Jan LaPerle
Yesterday morning Rose ate the insides of a lemon filled donut and the edges of a blueberry danish. Her husband ate the edges of the lemon filled donut. The sweetness was upon them: they kissed. The day was pretty and the husband left into it beneath his suit coat. His shoes squeaked across the kitchen floor (Rose had mopped the day before).
The day before yesterday had not been as sweet as yesterday. She had stayed home and listened to a story on the radio about people hurting people. Even when she flipped the radio switch the stories kept playing into her rooms. The day before yesterday she was sewing curtains from an old set of bed sheets. She ironed the edges of the sheets in perfect lines that reached out to her left and right and kept going and going and the women from the radio stories that the men had hurt and the men from the stories that the women had hurt gathered in her basement. They stood in the puddles where the rain leaked in. They stood behind her ironing board and waited. Go away, she whispered as she ironed and ironed and ironed.
Go away, she whispered as she climbed the wooden stairs and again she whispered it as she sewed the stitches along the edges of her ironed bed sheets. The women and the men spoke to her as she sewed and their voices grew louder and louder as the stories like terrible clocks ticked toward their climaxes with great alarm. Rose finished her curtains quickly; the motor of the machine hummed like a car. Her foot pushed the pedal to the floorboards. The men and women from the radio show were yanking her as if she were leashed.
Rose hollered all kinds of things at the men and women. She ripped the old curtains from the high rods; the dust clouded. All the shouting, from Rose, from the men and women, rattled the windowpanes, the metal rods clattering to the floor. Rose switched the radio back on, turning the volume high, hoping they would return from where they came from. She pounded the walls with a hammer, the furniture, too. She chased the men and women from the radio show around the room and they seemed pleased with the attention and the chase and they knocked over furniture and books from the shelves and vases from the shelf-tops. Curtains were ripped from the windows. The screen ripped from the door when the chase moved to the yard.
Rose’s husband returned from work at 5:10 p.m. His wife was pulling chicken from the oven. The house was quite pretty, as always (new vases on the shelf-tops opened into new blossoms). He complimented her new curtains, and parted them (not at all a surprising test of functionality), but what he saw there was unusual: his backyard filled with birds, every one without wings. In his paper sack from town was a donut and a danish and a cinnamon roll, too, which he handed to Rose. He kissed her before she could get to the window. They ate their chicken at the table: each hoping their gentle conversation would drown the sound of the terrible squawks rising and falling in the darkening yard.
JAN LaPERLE’s book of poetry, Maybe The Land Sings Back, is forthcoming from Galileo Press. Her other books include: a book of poetry, It Would Be Quiet (Prime Mincer Press, 2013); an e-chap of flash fiction, Hush(Sundress Publications, 2012); a story in verse, A Pretty Place To Mourn (BlazeVOX, 2014), and several other stories and poems. She completed her MFA from Southern Illinois University in 2006. In 2014 she won an individual artist grant from the Tennessee Arts Commission. She lives in Kentucky with her husband and daughter where she serves as a master sergeant in the Army.
Photo by Markus Spiske from Pexels